Dear Mentor:

Is spring session good for admissions and aid?

I am doing my BE [Bachelor of Engineering] in Mechanical from COEP, Pune. I have dates on 12 Sept. What about joining in spring 2003? Why don't I see many people going for their MS in the spring session? Is there less possibility of getting aid? Thanking you.

Better Chance for Assistance, Pune, India

Dear Better Chance for Assistance:

We do not understand what you mean by: I have dates on 12 Sept. Regardless, it does not seem relevant to your inquiry about obtaining assistance in the spring session for your MS studies, which we are presuming you plan to pursue in the US.

Just a comment on terminology. Universities in the US operate on either the semester system or the quarter system. Under the semester system, the fall semester typically starts in late August or early September, and the winter semester starts in January. Each semester is of 15 weeks duration. Under the quarter system, the fall quarter starts in September, the winter quarter starts in January and the spring quarter starts in late March or early April. Each quarter is of 10 weeks duration.

Whether the school is operating under the semester or quarter system, a vast majority of admissions are offered in the fall session. The reason is simple: Most entry-level courses are scheduled for the fall session. Very few admission offers are made for the winter session. No admissions are accepted in the spring session, which of course exists under the quarter system only.

With few exceptions, all international students start studies in the fall session. This has nothing to do with the financial aid situation, and it has everything to do with the schedule of courses being offered. And, since most admissions are offered for the fall session, most financial assistance offers are made for the fall session.

We had answered a similar question in an earlier column: When is the best time to apply for a US visa? We had been asked if obtaining a student visa is easier for the fall session relative to the winter session. The answer is the same: The grant of visa is independent of the season; it is dependent on the session for which you are offered admission.

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